I got to thinking last night about where my love of style came from. There were certain stories about my mum that always made me smile, in particular the one where she once (in college) painted her shoes with emulsion paint to match her outfit. The fact that she always picked me up on winter days from the school gates in a wolf (WOLF, I kid you not) jacket. It ended up in the tip one day (yes, the TIP. Again, I kid you not) during a phase when people were getting spat upon (and more) for wearing fur coats. The photos of her in skirts up to her bottom and boots up to her knees (that was the ’60s, she wasn’t tarty per se). The trips to NoahNoah on Wellfield Road and some fabulous outfits for work (she was an English teacher) – sky high stilettoed boots in the winter (which to her credit she wore all day every day without once falling over) and houndstooth monochrome suits with calf length kick flare skirts. A (okay, this one was a bit dodgy) ‘rhinestone cowboy’ jewel adorned jumpsuit. Oh yes, and a fabulous khaki-with-jungle-print skirt and jacket (sounds awful, but it was really original at the time) which she bought from Warehouse. (“Why didn’t you go to a shop?” said my dad…) Something my mum once said to me that I thought was very sweet (and am sure also true) is: children like colour, they like interesting things – they don’t want to see you dowdy. She always wore (and still wears) something quirky or stylish or colourful or interesting, and I’m positive that I’m not the only person she has inspired with her innate sense of style.
But my Dad definitely has something to answer for too. He wore a kermit (ok, this might be a slight exaggeration) green suit the first time he met the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, in his capacity as Chief Engineer for a road flyover project in Cardiff. He was one of four, and Prince Philip allegedly said to him “Ahh, you must be the contractor’s agent” (I didn’t know this, but contractors’ agents tend to wear wacky clothes. Maybe I should have been one of those?) Anyway, the second time my dad met them, in a longer line up that time, the eagle eyed Prince recognised him and said “I see you’ve got a new suit!” Brilliant. He also started wearing Kickers the same time as I did (remember them?) and hasn’t done up his shoelaces ever since, which is, I think, a fashion statement in itself. And he’s always, always had cool hair. He doesn’t wear jeans, or cowboy boots, but he definitely has something of an old cowboy about him.
My sister’s definitely had her moments (hey, she was a teenager in the 80s too) and is unfailingly supportive of my styling adventures (as she was of all of my previous crazy fads) but is generally more conservative in dress than me (not a bad thing, for her sake) and my brother (whatever he says, he had some special moments too, you only have to look at the picture) was frankly horrified when he heard about my plan to become a stylist. He thinks my dress sense is the worst in the world, which makes me laugh a lot (clearly he’s wrong).
Yes, our parents are where it all came from. They didn’t bat an eyelid when I dressed entirely in monochrome to match my beloved Welsh sheepdog. Or when I painted my entire room lime green and purple, and insisted on wearing only clothes in that colour (to my discredit I was about 15 at the time, not 9). They always accepted me as I was, and never tried to quash my individuality. Except for the time my mum made me wear a royal blue velour tracksuit to junior school in the winter because it was cosy. Urgh! Cosy and UGLY! I much preferred my grey marl mini skirt with neon graffiti on it. Even in the winter.
xx Nomad Thief xx